Is Air Azul, er, JetAmerica the Return of Skybus?

Air Azul, Jet America

Hey, remember Air Azul? Yeah, they’re gone already. They never even got off the ground, but fear not Azul-lovers. It appears that the airline is still lurking in the planning stages and will reemerge soon under the name JetAmerica. And if this Jet America Version 2is what I think it is, then it may very well be the reincarnation of Skybus. As you can imagine, I don’t have very high prospects for this venture.

Here’s the story. The name Air Azul was trashed and the websites completely disappeared in the last couple weeks. Ben over at USA Today rounded up stories about the end of the idea at the time. But just because Air Azul died doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.

Well, the name actually is gone for good, probably (I would guess) thanks to some unhappiness from the JetBlue crew. I wouldn’t want another blue-related name around town if I were them either. Now, is reporting that the new name will be JetAmerica and bookings will start on May 11.

Now you guys know how I feel about resurrecting old airline names. (The original JetAmerica was based in Long Beach in the 1980s before being swallowed up by Alaska.) But most people probably don’t remember the original in this case anyway. There’s something more significant at work here regarding the name. Jaunted has been covering the original Skybus founder John Weikle’s efforts to start a new airline for over a year. The name of that airline? JetAmerica.

You remember this one. It was supposed to be Skybus but out of Charleston, West Virginia. While I haven’t seen any confirmation of Weikle’s involvement in this one, the use of the name tells me that he will be involved with this bad boy somehow. Want another clue? Nine seats on each flight will be sold for $9. How very Skybussy.

From the article, it sounds like some of Air Azul’s previously-announced routes will be flown (Rockford to Baltimore and New York, for example), but I have to wonder how long it is before we see Charleston back in the mix. At least one report says that all aircraft will be based in Toledo, though that statement was retracted by JetAmerica just as fast as it was announced. Oh boy.

Something tells me that the chance of this working is very, very slim. And that’s being kind. Let’s hope that it at least lasts longer than, well, Air Azul did . . . .

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12 comments on “Is Air Azul, er, JetAmerica the Return of Skybus?

  1. This venture is definitely doomed. They can’t even pick out a name. First Air’Blue’, and now they pick the name of a company that provides private jet management (Jet America, Ltd Perhaps there should be a Cranky name contest for their next set of names: Pan I Am, Trans Westvirginia Airlines, SkyRickshaw, America West-but-not-really-far-west-yet, etc.

  2. Skybussy….that’s a good one. I also like Pan I AM and SkyRickshaw.

    But I remember the original Jet America (I just had to go look) and I even have one of their old timetables from June 1987. They managed to cover coast to coast service flying to only 11 cities. LGB, SNA, LAS, PDX, SEA, MSP, ORD, DFW, STL, DTW, DCA. I’m surprised Alaska didn’t hold on to the rights to the name so no one else could use it.

    At least someone starting up a service using the name Jet America and having a small route base will not be as bad as taking a great world wide known name like Pan Am and doing what those guys did. That was a dishonor to the Pan Am name if you ask me.

  3. SkyRickShaw would be especially appropriate if the founder was named Rick. Pan I Am is great also…or you could name it Boston-Maine Airways and fly to neither state, to copy another failed airline experiment. Or just BM for short.

  4. The Hindenburg image is funny, but suggests an ultimate grandeur in the prospective collapse of JetAmerica that may not be warranted.

    “Not with a bang but a whimper”

  5. that’s a great point. there’s something to be said for failing grandly in a grand pursuit. to be a fan or follower of this industry is to be an aficionado of failure, as fail they all eventually must. but we have, or should have anyway, a special place in our hearts for those who slip beneath the waves the last time standing erect on the bow, middle finger proudly aloft, and a maniacal smile suggesting that a spell away from this mad industry might be for the best. sadly, the foul puffs emanating from Azul/America suggest it will be neither here not there, neither fish nor fowl, and being nothing, will be nothing to worry us for very long.

  6. My favourite comment on the page that you linked to was the bozo who commented that the spanish word sounds too middle eastern.

    Anyway, another thing that jumps out to me is that both the 167-seat 737-800’s that Air Azul intended to lease from Sun Country and the 189-seat 737-800’s that JetAmerica intends to lease from Miami Air International are the same size, but Sharon McDermott, director of airline services (is that a spokesdriod from the airport or the airline?) tries to pass it off as a bigger airplane instead of cramming 22 more seats into the same space (it’s not crap is post-processed food). I wonder if Michael O’Leary is involved in this somehow?

    How is the original CEO going to stay with the Air Azul brand, when that brand is attached to an airline whose sole operations, 4 weekly flights connecting the middle of nowhere, KY with Nashville with a single engine airplane, ceased operations May 1st, and has a website that now consists of a empty directory?

    I can’t find any relevant information on Sun America, the outfit who is running JetAmerica, formerly known as Air Azul, and is leasing aircraft from Miami Air International. When I google their name, all that comes up is this site which appears to not be ready for public consumption.

  7. joe – Sharon McDermott works for the airline, as far as I can tell.

    So the deal with the puddle jumpers is an interesting one. Air Azul quit operating under that name entirely, but the regional operation was really run by Locair under the name Air Azul. (I believe Air Azul publicly chartered the aircraft from Locair.) Now that operation is continuing under the name Locair. (

  8. I’m trying to understand this Air America situation, but I’m not nearly as in tune as you all are. I’m hoping that you can help with any of these questions below based on these quotes. I have a few questions at the end. I hope you can answer any of them.

    On July 2, JetAmerica’s Vice President of Operations Brian Burling said: “In February 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration advised us, through an intermediary, that our operations at Newark could be accommodated.”

    The FAA’s change in the slot policy for indirect air carriers is beyond our control. We are working hard to obtain all the slots we need as soon as possible.

    Jet America Chief Executive Officer John Weikle said that they just found out about this on May 30. And they were trying to get slots for July and August.

    The airline reported that it would have had to pay $450,000 for the slots at Newark. How could they expect to get this money, considering that it was such a small operation?

    In speaking only about Newark:
    1. Did the FAA change in the slot policy for indirect air carriers, like Jet America says? Opinions?
    2. Or did they single Jet America out?
    3. If they singled Jet America out, is it because they sold so many tickets so quickly?
    4. Was it realistic that Jet America would obtain slots for its daily flights by August 14?
    5. Looking at the quote from Burling, who could the “intermediary” be? Wouldn’t the FAA communicate directly with an airline?
    6. Could they get the slots without having to pay $450,000?

    I really hope you guys can help me understand any of this.

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